WHY SHOULD YOU USE LINKEDIN FOR B2B LEAD GENERATION?

A RESEACH REPORT FOR B2B MARKETERS BY LEADFORMIX

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Table Of Content

Summary

Social media marketing has become an important part of the overall marketing mix for most companies. Presence on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter is a significant part of this effort. In June 2010, CallidusCloud Marketing Automation published a report on – HOW EFFECTIVE IS SOCIAL MEDIA FOR B2B LEAD GENERATION? – where we found that, of all the social networking sites, LinkedIn was the most effective in sending leads or enterprise visitors to B2B company websites.

In this report CallidusCloud Marketing Automation has tried to analyze further the referral traffic, especially the enterprise visitors (leads) coming in from LinkedIn to B2B sites. The sources within LinkedIn which are most instrumental in sending these leads to a site and the kind of activities the LinkedIn members should participate in to get maximum advantage from the network.

This in-depth analysis of enterprise visitor data and their behavior when visiting a company website from LinkedIn, will help B2B companies in understanding the LinkedIn platform better and optimizing their use of this professional networking site to generate more quality leads.

This report is based on actual data gathered from across our client base.



Data Acquisition Facts

  • The LinkedIn visitor data has been collected from the websites of 289 B2B companies – clients of CallidusCloud Marketing Automation, for a period of 1 month (Feb 2011).
  • There was no specific criteria for selecting these company websites, we basically looked at all those companies (289) which had visits from LinkedIn in the month of February 2011.
  • It can be safely assumed, that all these 289 companies have some kind of presence on LinkedIn, it could be an employee profile or a company page.
  • Some of these companies have been very active on LinkedIn and used the platform and all its sections like, groups, company profile pages, Q&A etc. to promote their company, its offering, events and other marketing collaterals.
  • In the B2B space, all enterprise visitors to a website are referred to as leads.


Major Findings

  1. 24 % of all visitors from LinkedIn to a B2B website are enterprise visitors (leads).
  2. Nearly 45% of leads coming to a company website through LinkedIn are first time visitors.
  3. 1 in 2 leads to a website coming from LinkedIn, come from individual profile + company profile pages.
  4. Leads from LinkedIn groups and ads are most likely to fill a form (convert) on a B2B website.
  5. Visitors from LinkedIn groups are also most likely to respond to webinar invites.
  6. 1 in 3 visitors from a LinkedIn group, filled a form on a website (converted).
  7. Based on the intent of visitors measured by CallidusCloud Marketing Automation, the most relevant traffic for a company comes from its LinkedIn employee profiles and participation in groups. These visitors are most interested in the company details, product offerings and in attending webinars which are highly correlated with a potential buyer’s intent.
  8. Visitors from LinkedIn company pages are most likely to spend more than 10 minutes on a company website.


Total LinkedIn Referred Visits

The graph below is the only data in this report where we have gathered visitor data from all our 289 clients for a period of 90 days. This is to show the increase we noticed in the referral traffic coming from LinkedIn. The period under consideration is from December 2010 to February 2011.


Enterprise Visitors from LinkedIn from Dec 2010 – Feb 2011

The traffic from LinkedIn to the websites has increased gradually over time. The weekly average is also increasing, indicating that one can expect more traffic from this source as more users get on the network which recently crossed 100 million users and is still counting.



Leads Coming From LinkedIn

In the month of February 2011, 24% of all visitors from LinkedIn to our 289 client websites were enterprise visitors (leads).



Source Of LinkedIn Referral Visitors

Members of LinkedIn participate in several activities like posting a status on their profile page to commenting on groups and answering questions. All of these activities contributed to the overall traffic flow from LinkedIn to our websites.

In the graph below, we have tried to break down the source of the traffic from the various sections within LinkedIn. The identified sections correspond to more than 90% of all visits from LinkedIn.

The ‘others’ in the list mostly comprise of shares and clicks from the home page through activity feeds.



Number Of Form Fills Or Conversions

Form fills are an important aspect of B2B websites. In B2B online marketing terminology, form fills mean conversion. Enterprise visitors (leads) who fill forms are also considered prospects or qualified leads by companies, because by filling a form they showed their explicit interest in the company and approved the company to establish contact with them. To analyze which sections within LinkedIn send more of such quality leads, we divided the traffic filling forms by the source of their visits.


Here LinkedIn groups emerged as the clear front runner by contributing majority of the total form fills. This clearly shows that companies which post webinar invites and whitepaper announcements on LinkedIn groups can expect a good response from the group members.

It works because LinkedIn groups have people with similar interests and backgrounds depending on the nature and subject of the group. Group members easily fit a well defined profile of a company’s target audience and hence the results are phenomenal.

LinkedIn advertisements emerged as the next best bet for getting a high percentage of conversions.

LinkedIn advertisements can again be targeted at members with specific designations, roles and interests etc., assuring a high quality audience. Hence the likelihood of prospects filling a form once they land on one after clicking an ad is high.

Other sources which contributed to form fills are job sections, company pages and news updates.



Top 5 Intent of Enterprise Visitors from LinkedIn

CallidusCloud Marketing Automation’s B2B marketing automation platform has the unique ability of measuring visitor intent, we used our patent pending ‘Intent inference technology’ to measure the intent of the LinkedIn visitors, depending on the source they came from and the content they spent more time on, once on the website.

All enterprise visitors from LinkedIn

  • Careers
  • Contact us
  • Homepage
  • About us
  • Management

This shows that enterprise visitors coming from LinkedIn to a company website are either interested in looking out for career opportunities in these companies or are aware of the company and want to contact them and establish communication with them.

We have witnessed a shift here from our findings in our 2010 B2B Social Media Lead generation report same period last year, where we found that management pages and contact us pages were the most visited.

Percentage of Visitors from LinkedIn and their Intent

LinkedIn has emerged as one of the best places online for finding good professionals and the shift we see in intent could be a reflection of the same trend.



Top 5 Intent of Enterprise Visitors from Different Sections of LinkedIn

LinkedIn Company pages

  1. Careers
  2. Contact us
  3. Homepage
  4. About us
  5. Management

The company referrals bring in both job seekers and people trying to decipher details about the company.

LinkedIn Profile Referrals

  1. Contact us
  2. Homepage
  3. Careers
  4. Management
  5. About us

Clearly profiles bring in quality leads with focus on understanding the company. The enterprise visitors coming from a profile to a website have heard about the person or have been referred a name and are trying to understand more about the professional and his organization.

LinkedIn Groups

  1. Webinar
  2. Current openings
  3. Blog Posts
  4. Whitepaper
  5. Management

Enterprise visitors coming from groups are very focused on information gathering and are most likely to click on for webinar invites, whitepapers, blog links etc.. These visits also result in higher form fills and hence the enterprise visitors from groups can be considered as qualified leads or prospects.

LinkedIn News Links

  1. Blog Links
  2. Article Links
  3. Press Release links
  4. News reports
  5. Research Reports

News links usually bring in visitors who are interested in the content shared by the company across different sections of LinkedIn. Most of them are first time visitors to the site, the content shared by the company perks there interest, leading them to the site. Converting the first time enterprise visitors into prospects by engaging these visitors on their website is something B2B companies can work towards.



Time Spent On Site by Enterprise Visitors from LinkedIn

On an average an enterprise visitor from LinkedIn to a website spends around 2.2 minutes. As seen in the intent section, the user is mostly interested in careers and about us pages of the website.  

Time bucket Number of visitors Percentage of Visitors
<0.1 1621 40.72%
.1 - 1 min 893 22.43%
1- 2min 538 13.51%
2-4 min 388 9.75%
4-7 mins 219 5.50%
7-10 mins 99 2.49%
>10 mins 223 5.60%

  • Nearly 40% of all visitors from LinkedIn bounce (visit a single page and leave which explains the very low time)
  • Only 22% of visitors spend more than 2 minutes on the site
  • There is a near decreasing trend for each bucket which implies that there are only a few who spend a lot of time on a company website


Time Spent On Website by Enterprise Visitors from Different Sections on LinkedIn

Various sections of LinkedIn appeal to different kinds of audience, hence it is important to understand the interest levels of these enterprise visitors coming from different sources on LinkedIn. Below we have determined how much time is spent by enterprise visitors on a website once they come to the site from different sections on LinkedIn.

We see that visitors from different sections of LinkedIn have different interest levels. Visitors coming in through news browse through the site quickly. Those who come from advertisements or question & answer section on an average spend more time on the site.

This could be because people who come from ads and answers are mostly discovering new people and companies. Since averages can hide outliers and hence not provide a very accurate picture, we have done a frequency analysis to see what kind of time each type of visitor is likely to spend on a site.



Time Spent On Website by Enterprise Visitors from LinkedIn Company Pages

Time bucket Number of visitors Percentage of Visitors
<0.1 152 24.40%
.1 - 1 min 181 29.05%
1- 2min 112 17.98%
2-4 min 59 9.47%
4-7 mins 52 8.35%
7-10 mins 21 3.37%
>10 mins 46 7.38%

  • Clearly, there are fewer bounces from company pages
  • Most people at least visit a single page and before they leave.
  • This seems to indicate that the people coming in through the company pages are interested in browsing the company website and finding out more about the company and its offerings.


Time Spent On Website by Enterprise Visitors from LinkedIn Profile Pages

Time bucket Number of visitors Percentage of Visitors
<0.1 498 36.19%
.1 - 1 min 395 28.71%
1- 2min 184 13.37%
2-4 min 133 9.67%
4-7 mins 69 5.01%
7-10 mins 31 2.25%
>10 mins 66 4.80%

Profile pages follow the same pattern as all LinkedIn visitors. Since profile pages are the majority of referrers, this makes sense.



Time Spent On Website by Enterprise Visitors from LinkedIn Groups

Time bucket Number of visitors Percentage of Visitors
<0.1 253 38.74%
.1 - 1 min 108 16.54%
1- 2min 102 15.62%
2-4 min 112 17.15%
4-7 mins 36 5.51%
7-10 mins 14 2.14%
>10 mins 28 4.29%

  • The bounce rates are high but the number of people spending more than 1 minute on the site is higher.
  • There is a more even grouping between 1 -4 minutes, indicating potentially the quality of the post or link in the group site.
  • Since groups are a good way to reach out to individuals with similar interests, relevant content draws in quality traffic to the site. We noticed in the previous section that the form fill ratio of Groups is higher when compared with other sections of LinkedIn, hence this becomes a must address segment for B2B marketers.


Time Spent On Website by Enterprise Visitors from LinkedIn News Page

Time bucket Number of visitors Percentage of Visitors
<0.1 418 62.76%
.1 - 1 min 66 9.91%
1- 2min 53 7.96%
2-4 min 49 7.36%
4-7 mins 34 5.11%
7-10 mins 14 2.10%
>10 mins 32 4.80%

The data clearly indicates that there is 2/3 chance (or nearly 50% more than average) chance that the visitor will bounce as he is a casual visitor, visiting the site to read something that perked his interest.



Time Spent On Website by Enterprise Visitors from LinkedIn Ads

Time bucket Number of visitors Percentage of Visitors
<0.1 65 45.77%
.1 - 1 min 25 17.61%
1- 2min 21 14.79%
2-4 min 9 6.34%
4-7 mins 6 4.23%
7-10 mins 3 2.11%
>10 mins 13 9.15%

  • The visitor data indicates a clear interested, not interested section, with a significant number dropping out early and nearly 60% of the visitors spending more than 1 minute.
  • So if the targeting of the ad is right, companies can expect higher form fill conversions.


Time Spent On Website By Enterprise Visitors From LinkedIn Q & A Pages

Time bucket Number of visitors Percentage of Visitors
<0.1 10 33.33%
.1 - 1 min 10 33.33%
1- 2min 3 10.00%
2-4 min 1 3.33%
4-7 mins 1 3.33%
7-10 mins 2 6.67%
>10 mins 3 10.00%

  • LinkedIn answers provides some interesting insight into how content is consumed by LinkedIn users. While the number of people who bounce is high, it is equal to the number of people who spend at least a minute on the site, surfing through one or more pages.
  • Enterprise visitors coming in from Q & A sites also show some extreme behavior an equal percentage of individuals either stay on a website for less than 2 minutes or more than 10 minutes. The percentage of people spending time between 2-7 minutes is also quite less.
  • So either the answer offered genuinely answered their query and they found the solution they were looking for on the website and stayed on to study it or they found it to be a mere promotion and left the website after browsing a bit
  • A great recommendation in LinkedIn answers can convince the visitor to browse the site and understand the company being talked about / recommended. It would be good if these answers are not promotional in nature and given with the intention of genuinely answering the query.
  • This is an organic process and will take time. Since it’s a hit/miss, time needs to be judiciously spent.


Percentage of First Time Enterprise Visitors Coming from Different LinkedIn Sections to B2b Websites

  First time visits Total Visits Percentage of Visitors
Profile 641 1422 45.074%
Groups 413 653 63.24%
Company 272 648 41.97%
News 248 666 37.23%
Others 121 367 32.97%
Ads 85 142 59.85%
Answers 21 30 70%
Jobs 13 53 24.52%
  1814 3981 45.56%

  • Nearly half of all enterprise visitors to LinkedIn are first time visitors
  • LinkedIn answers, groups and ads send in the highest number of first time visitors
  • Though ads do show up as one of the top first time visitor referring sections, nearly 40% of the enterprise visitors coming to a site by clicking on an ad are not first time visitors. So there is a case to use LinkedIn for retargeting.
  • Seeding relevant content on LinkedIn groups will help companies immensely as the activity helps spread awareness among their target audience and then bring them onto the site.


LinkedIn Ads VS Google Adwords

Most B2B companies which are into online/internet marketing, spend money on online advertising, the most popular channel being Google adwords. Today with the emergence of LinkedIn as an ideal B2B networking platform, LinkedIn ads are fast becoming a part of the online marketing mix.

In the graphs below we have tried to measure the leads generated by Google adwords and LinkedIn ads for 7 of our clients in the month of February. All these companies spent money on Google ads and LinkedIn ads during this period.

Of all the visitors that came to these sites from Google ads, 24% were enterprise visitors (leads) and of these 24%, 37% filled forms or converted.

Of all the visitors coming to a website by clicking on LinkedIn ads, 21% are leads, a good turnover considering these ads are more targeted and often more expensive than Google ads. However only, 1.5% of these leads filled forms.

The reasons could be many, but we think 2 factors that significantly contributed to this low conversion rate are –

  • LinkedIn is relatively a new medium, with a minimum average CPC (cost per click) rate of $2 (which is expensive), so many companies might still be testing waters and may be in the process of measuring the ROI for their investments in LinkedIn ads, hence investing less.
  • Again the processes for Google adwords are clear, people know they have to have a separate landing page with a form to measure their conversion rate. It seems the familiarity with the LinkedIn ad process is not there. Companies are not yet clear on whether they should just lead their visitors to their company homepage or a specifically designed page, which could be the reason why we see such a low conversion rate.

Just to remind our readers if you see our form fill data presented in the previous sections, you will realize that ads contributed to 21.1% of the total form fills (conversions) on a site. The numbers are higher because the data was collected across 289 companies, while in the above comparison we have only considered data from 7 companies, who were investing in both Google adwords and LinkedIn ads in the month of February 2011.



Recommendations

  • LinkedIn sends in a significant number of relevant enterprise visitors/leads to a website and hence it is good to have a presence on the site.
  • All B2B companies should have some presence on LinkedIn, updated employee profiles can help with the company’s lead generation effort. Senior management profiles should definitely be updated as they are most likely to be searched. It may help to add your LinkedIn profile address on any digital signature too.
  • Having a LinkedIn company page with third party recommendations will go a long way in luring your prospects to your site. People who come in from a LinkedIn company page spend the maximum amount of time on a website.
  • LinkedIn groups should be a definite part of a company’s marketing mix. Posting relevant content in relevant groups brings in qualified prospects.
  • Companies looking to find an interested audience for their webinars and whitepapers should most certainly share the related information on LinkedIn groups.
  • Companies investing in LinkedIn ads should be clear on their target audience on the networking site and target their ads accordingly. Companies can retarget their ads at those companies which have visited their site recently as an additional nurturing mechanism and for top of mind recall. If a company is paying for CPC, it should ensure that the content the visitor lands on after clicking is interesting as ad visitors are very fickle and may bounce increasing the company’s lead acquisition cost.
  • Participating in LinkedIn answers is a good way of generating traffic, but it is a slow process. Companies, with the help of their representatives on LinkedIn need to build the brand association over time, this ensures that users new to the product/service offered are able to associate the names of these representative to the brand they represent, every time they see their queries being answered by this person. An endorsement from a known person for your product in the Q & A section would be very valuable
  • Nearly 45% of your visitors through LinkedIn are first time visitors – this is a great chance to impress them before they make an impression about the company.


About CallidusCloud Marketing Automation

CallidusCloud Marketing Automation is a leader in next-generation marketing automation and sales enablement, providing a game-changing, real-time solution that delivers a new level of enriched lead data, enabling enterprise sales and marketing teams to uncover hidden opportunities, accurately identify online visitor intent and decision-makers, and deliver powerful, targeted, real-time responses to qualified prospects. CallidusCloud Marketing Automation was founded by experienced software executives from Microsoft, Yodlee, Autonomy, and Healtheon. CallidusCloud Marketing Automation has offices in California, Michigan, England and India.

For more information, please visit -- http://www.leadformix.com

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